Not a Bogus Green Data Center Initiative, says Intel

Intel’s Brently Davis, manager of Intel’s data center efficiency project is quoted in Baseline Magazine.

This isn’t some bogus green data center initiative, executives say. This is an efficiency exercise that saves the green that matters most in these tough economic times.

“Our main concern is not about being green,” says Brently Davis, manager of Intel’s data center efficiency project. “It is more so about being efficient, figuring out how we can run our computing environment better.

The problems Intel face are the same as any company.

Intel developed Davis’ group within its IT operations department just so it could tackle such issues. “You’ve always got to pull people in to help look horizontally,” he says. “A lot of times, the focus of IT groups is myopic: They like to concentrate on their own vertical. But you’ve got to have a horizontal overview, and I think that’s what we try to help them do.”

Their solution was to get finance people on board.

One of the first things that Davis did to make that happen was to bring in the financial folks to get a clear picture of spending beyond the overarching price tag—to see where the dollars were going. That’s the key step in any efficiency project, he says.

“You can’t do this if you don’t understand what you’re spending,” Davis says. “We brought in our finance team and said, ‘Pull all of this stuff together so we can figure out what we’re spending. Put these numbers together, get it validated and make sure it makes sense.’”

Intel reconciles issues with standardization.

Standardization Begets Better Utilization

With the business case laid out and the “but why-ers” on board, Intel is now putting all the logistical puzzles into place. The first step has been to work on standardizing the environments and practices to reduce redundancies and improve the way all the data centers work together. Because, as Davis says, when Intel surveyed the data center landscape in 2006, it had 150 centers and “there was no synergy to anything; we were all over the place.”

And executes with specific goals.

This was enabled through a number of strategies, including virtualization, grid computing and cloud computing. And it was coupled with efforts to do a better job refreshing servers—replacing them with fewer servers along the way.

Before the program started, Davis reported that by 2014, Intel was on track to move up from 90,000 servers to 225,000 servers. The goal, he says, is to keep that number at 100,000 in six years’ time and reduce the cost and power draw of each of these servers significantly.

“The only way we could do that was by getting off the old hardware,” he recalls. “We were just as guilty as everyone else. We were sitting on servers that were possibly seven or eight years old. We needed to start refreshing those servers to reduce the power consumption in the data center.”